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MARY MEAUX — Expansion of reef off Sabine Pass to benefit many

Anglers in Texas can rejoice at news of the expansion of a nearshore reef just nine-miles off Sabine Pass.

The H120 Reef is a 160-acre site that is already home to a 120-foot sunken barge and hundreds of granite blocks. Coastal Conservation Association of Texas announced the expansion of the reef that will include hundreds of tons of additional diverse materials, including reef pyramids, steel energy industry structures, low-level relief and concrete culverts.

To the non-angler, this may sound like someone decided to dump some old concrete in the Gulf of Mexico; but to the many species of fish that will call this home, it’s conservation and it’s a pretty big deal.

Industry partners that made the reef expansion possible include: Sempra LNG, Chenier Energy, Golden Pass LNG, Motiva, Phillips 66, Shell Oil Company, Friends of Sabine Reef, Forterra Pipe and Precast, Bo-Mac Contractors, Eldridge Construction, and The CCA Music City Chapter, along with Coastal Conservation Association Texas, Building Conservation Trust and Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

“Massive nearshore habitat initiatives like HI20 show the scope of what can happen when grassroots anglers and conservationists come together in partnership with corporations, local and State Government, NGOs and other community leaders to make a real and lasting difference in our coastal waters,” Mic Cowart, Sabine Pass Port Authority Manager, said in a written release.

“I am proud to be a part of a project that creates marine habitat that will provide for angling opportunities for present and future generations of Texans. With the vast forest of energy structures that has dotted the Gulf of Mexico for decades slowly disappearing due to federal government regulations, artificial reefing initiatives take on an added importance.

“The Sabine area has lost more offshore marine habitat than any other along the Texas coast, making grassroots efforts such as the HI20 Reef even more vital for strong and dynamic marine resources. We cannot thank our local industry partners enough, for helping financially and providing ocean-going tugs and barges as well.”

John Blaha, CCA Texas habitat program director, said the “infusion of that much material is going to create an unparalleled reef ecosystem in an area that was largely devoid of any habitat just a few years ago.”

Besides conservation and habitat, there is also the economic impact tied to anglers as they pump money back into the state and to local businesses.

Anglers gas up their vehicles and boats, purchase snacks and bait and other necessities before hitting the water.

All in all, the reef expansion is a win-win for the sea life that will benefit from it, as well as the anglers and Texans.

 

Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at mary.meaux@panews.com.